Gaming is a hot topic in sports and has become a global cultural phenomenon, giving rise to esports. Fortnite leads the charge in gaming’s rising popularity, transcending from being a video game to being a part of culture. Unsurprisingly, every brand wants in on the action. The gaming audience expects esports and gaming logo placements for advertising, but it didn’t expect a brand to play the game with it for advertising. When Fortnite announced a new mode called Food Fight, Wendy’s (the American hamburger chain) found an organic way in by actually playing the game with fans to promote core brand messaging.
To reach our audience in a way distinct from our category competitors, we decided to go beyond reaching it as the brand advertiser it would expect. So we entered the world of Fortnite as a player —as co-creator of culture, a gamer and an entertainer. Other brands have attempted to reach this audience by placing in-game logos or billboards, but we were going beyond traditional advertisement. Rather than pay our way in, we decided to play our way in.
We blurred the line between brand and influencer, playing Fortnite as Wendy’s and streaming it live on Twitch to immerse ourselves in this audience’s world as both player and brand.
In short, our idea was to use the game Fortnite to promote Wendy’s brand messaging.
When Fortnite introduced a new game mode called Food Fight, we saw an organic way to insert Wendy’s into the game’s story and meet our audience in its world. In this game mode, proponents of the Fortnite universe’s two restaurants — Durr Burger and Pizza Pit — could represent Team Burger or Team Pizza in battle. We discovered that Durr Burger stored its virtual beef in freezers, a move directly against the fresh, never frozen beef for which Wendy’s is famous.
The game’s objective is to eliminate other players and be the last person standing. We decided to enter the fight on the side of Team Pizza, making it our objective to eliminate all burger freezers from the game.
We played the game as Wendy’s, using it as a vehicle for our core brand messaging and virtually demonstrating our commitment to our core differentiator: fresh, never frozen beef.
On Nov. 29, 2018, we organically tweeted that we would be streaming Fortnite live on Twitch. We put down the keyboard, picked up a controller and began playing the game with our fans. In doing so, we took Wendy’s to a platform where our audience was — and where no brand had gone before.
We played as a character with red hair and pigtails (just like our logo), and for nine hours, we streamed our destruction of any and all beef-laden freezers.
We were playing the game wrong by only destroying virtual freezers and not other gamers, so naturally other gamers and Twitch streamers noticed. Soon players and top gaming influencers like KingRichard joined our mission and began to destroy freezers with us. We changed the way the game was played as our audience watched and joined in to help us spread our message that fresh beef beats frozen beef.